The first of a two-part exhibition to culminate at London’s Evelyn Yard in January 2015, Paul Kneale‘s SEO and Co., running at tank.tv from October 13 to November 21, reclaims and reconstitutes the work of the speech-to-text transcription that’s applying Search Engine Optimisation to video. With the internet being essentially a text-based medium, the difficulties of uploading films online while making them accessible, or more appropriately, ‘rank-able’ by search engines means that Google and YouTube have developed a new approach to inscribing the ephemeral image through auto captioning software. That means some laughably off-point transcripts of recorded events to follow, including the highly theoretical Lunch Bytes Structures and Textures panel discussion in May this year – where Kneale spoke along with Ben Vickers, Wendy Chun and Boris Groys – only to be translated automatically into an absurd collation of phrases like, “nothing series your working, additional culture, %uh gutenberg!” and “sweetie what happened to you?”.
While the text doesn’t necessarily relate to content specifics, somehow it’s been interpreted into the right subject of art with a ‘Warhol’ dropping in from nowhere and leading nicely to becoming a piece of it (as in art) with Kneale’s resulting SEO and Co. exhibition. The artist transformed the transcript into a screenplay, split into four ‘scenes’ and read by five London-based creatives including himself, Harry Burke, Melika Ngombe Kolongo, Nina Cristante and Oscar Khan -as ‘FRAMER’, ‘INTERJECTOR’, ‘ELABORATOR’, ‘STUDENT’, ‘DISTURBER’ (not necessarily in that order). The performances were filmed inside and on the roof of Kneale’s current home and muse, the disused Rotherhithe Library (occassionally known as the Library + project space), before being projected on to parts pulled from the condemned building and reinstalled in the tank.tv downstairs space.
The result is various makeshift ‘screens’ made up of material crossing ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ space. A part of a flourescent light that undulates in the background of Kolongo’s reading on-screen is nailed to the back of the board where its showing. There’s a hole roughly cut through a perpendicular panel with a view to the metal framed tarp projecting an image of that same substance. Speakers playing the sound of the SEO mash-up hang in branded bags or the plastic that they came in. A microwave, brown from burnt CDs cooked inside it, is on the floor behind a suspended film of dazzling chameleon-coloured bubbles of polycarbonate plastic; their digital data lost with the melted material.
As was the SEO and Co. script, so too is said CD melting fetish directly inspired by nonsensical algorithmic associations. It’s from one of the recommendations following a viewing of the same YouTube upload of the Lynch Bytes #2 discussion video that inspired the screenplay. As an artist interested in the “rerouting and transference of meaning”, Kneale siezes on Harold Bloom’s idea of “poetic misprision” – where one wilfully misinterprets their inspiration in order to open up the imaginative space – and presents an exhibition that recognises the potential of technology’s ludicrous lack of intentionality in broadening our perspective. **
Exhibition photos, top right.